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History

The Royal Melbourne Show Art, Craft & Cookery Competition is now over 100 years old. Today’s prestigious competition originates from another called ‘Women’s Industries’, which was introduced at the 1911 Royal Melbourne Show. In that first year there were 172 entries in the competition.

In the early period Mrs Florence Monod was a key administrator for the Competition. She made a substantial contribution to its growth through her role as Chief Stewardess from 1932 to 1947. Her primary objective was to see the development of a dedicated art and craft pavilion at the showgrounds. In her memory, The Florence Monod Award was established in 1950 and continues as the most prestigious of the craft awards in today’s competitions. The Award is presented for the most outstanding craft exhibit in the competition.

In 1972 Art, Craft & Cookery was split across three buildings and the The Sir William Angliss Art Competition was introduced.

During 1988 (Australia’s bi-centennial year) ‘Artcraft 88’, which was the largest art and craft exhibition in Australia was established by Janice Gray, a long-serving member of the RASV. Janice was responsible for the Art & Craft section at the Royal Melbourne Show for a period of 17 years. Following her death, the Society and its staff honoured Janice’s memory and achievements by establishing The Janice Gray Memorial Award. This was originally awarded to the Most Successful School in the Garment Construction or Woodwork Section. Since 1993 the Award has been presented to the most successful school in the Junior Competition.

The Judith McRobert Memorial Trophy was first awarded in in 1991. Judith was a committee member and steward for 13 years. Her special areas of interest were cookery (fruit cakes) and knitting. The Award was later re-named the McRobert Memorial Trophy (to include Judith’s husband, Rod). The family has continued the tradition by awarding a presentation silver spoon to the Most Successful Exhibitor in the Cookery Section.

In 2001 No. 2 Pavilion, the traditional home for the Art & Craft exhibition, burnt to the ground. Art & Craft was then displayed in several pavilions including PB Ronald Pavilion, Centrepoint. The Angliss Gallery, and a temporary home in a Hoecker structure (together with horses). After the redevelopment of the showgrounds in 2006, all sections of Art, Craft & Cookery as well as the Junior Competition were displayed under one roof in the Town Square Pavilion.

In 2016 visitors to the Pavilion will not only see thousands of competition exhibits on display but also experience interactive activities and presentations. This includes the development of Create Space, hands-on craft activities for visitors; Meet the Master, an opportunity for one-on-one engagement between visitors and arts & craft specialists and organisations; and Inspiration Space, a staged area for specialist presentations and demonstrations by industry experts.